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Effect of Desertification on Atmosphere and Climate


The effect of the desertification processes on the atmospheric composition and climate. Basic region for investigation - the Kalmykian Black Lands Russia) and the Jornada del Muerto Basin of the Chihuahuan Desert (New Mexico, USA)

Tech Area / Field

  • ENV-APC/Air Pollution and Control/Environment

3 Approved without Funding

Registration date

Leading Institute
Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Russia, Moscow

Supporting institutes

  • Karpov Institute of Physical Chemistry, Russia, Moscow


  • Ewha Womans University / Department of Environmental Science and Engineering, Korea, Seoul\nMassachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) / Department of Chemistry, USA, MA, Cambridge\nNational Observatory of Athens, Greece, Athens\nFraunhofer Institute Toxikologie und Aerosolforschung, Germany, Hannover\nArizona State University / College of Engineering and Applied Sciences, USA, AZ, Tempe\nUS Department of Commerce / National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration / Air Resources Laboratory, USA, NC, Research Triangle Park\nUniversity of Iowa, USA, IA, Iowa City\nArizona State University / Department of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering, USA, AZ, Tempe\nUniversity of Hawai'i at Manoa / School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, USA, Honolulu\nUS Environmental Protection Agency / National Exposure Research Laboratory, USA, DC, Washington\nUniversity of California, USA, CA, San Diego\nUS Department of Commerce / National Oceanic and Atmospheric Adminastration, USA, CO, Boulder\nForschungszentrum Karlsruhe Technik und Umwelt / Institute of Meteorology and Climate Research, Germany, Karlsruhe\nNew Mexico State University / Carlsbad Environmental Monitoring & Research Center, USA, CA, Carlsbad\nKwangju Institute of Science and Technology / Advanced Enviromental Monitoring Research Center, Korea, Kwangju\nKorea Institute of Science and Technology / Global Environmental Research Center, Korea, Seoul\nRiso National Laboratory / Wind Energy and Atmospheric Physics Department, Denmark, Roskilde\nMax-Planck-Institut für Chemie, Germany, Mainz\nUniversity of Uppsala / Department of Earth Science, Sweden, Uppsala\nUmveltforschungszentrum Leipzig-Halle GmbH, Germany, Leipzig\nArizona State University / College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, USA, AZ, Tempe

Project summary

The investigations of the desert impact on the atmosphere are usually confined to the studies of dust storms. The dust storms are related to strong winds (wind velocity is over 10-15 m/s) and they supply the atmosphere by a huge mass of dust and salt particles. Nevertheless the predominant part of this mass is concentrated in large-size particles, that have a short lifetime in the atmosphere.

In the ISTC Project 035-095 “Investigation of the Processes of Dust and Salt Transfer from New Desertified Regions” it has been established that in hot dry season the boundary layer convective processes lift up fine dust and salt particles even without strong winds in arid regions. These particles having the sizes from 0.01 mcm up to 5 mcm may fly in the atmosphere for a long time and cause the marked atmospheric pollution. The analysis of the obtained data and references on the topic shows that the studying of impact of convective processes on the air pollution only is in the beginning. The mass and energy exchange in the land-atmosphere system is very important for the evaluation of atmospheric composition change and, consequently, climate change, especially in arid zones.

This Project is developed in accordance with the suggestions by Dr. D. Gillette (the main collaborator of the Project 035-95) to run the supposed investigations in Kalmykia (Russia) in comparison with the similar investigations in Jornada (New Mexico, USA) in the framework of the Project “Jornada Basin Long Term Ecological Research” (LTER). Another possible collaborator, Dr. R. Arimoto also carries out studies in framework LTER program at New Mexico State University in the Jornada site near Las Cruces and in the El Paso/Juarez region. All this research works have strong connections with our proposal.

In the frame of the Project it will be studied:

1) migration of elemental substances in «soil-atmosphere» system including toxic compounds; estimates of influence evaporation and condensation processes and transportation of the water and water vapor in soil and the atmosphere on the «soil-atmosphere» migration of dust and salt particles,

2) physical properties of the atmospheric boundary layer leading to intensification of soil-atmosphere exchange and estimates of influence of the exchange on the soil state and the atmospheric composition,

3) the possible measures for reduction of negative consequences of arid aerosol emission and desertification processes,

For the solution of the problem under investigation and development of soil-atmosphere model for the natural conditions the choice of priority marker-compounds is needed. These compounds can be able to permit the observation for the evolution (underground migration and redistribution) of silt particles, upper layer of soils and air aerosols. Among the abundance of other parameters the polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) might be most optimal as indicator compounds.

These substances are very efficiently propagating in the environment, part of them possessing a long-life period in the atmosphere and may be easily identified methodically. For the estimation of migration trends in the geochemical landscapes, the especial attention to the rare or diffuse elements is needed. In the arid territories these elements are not typemorphical and can be involved to the migration processes according to their concentration in the landscape components. Differentiation of elements in the various components of elementary landscapes allows determining the migration trends in the typical landscapes of arid zone. The water and water vapour motion and phase transformation can be involved to the particles migration processes from soil to atmosphere.

The landscape-geochemical investigation of arid territories allows to define:

- the quantitative estimation of aerosol transfers to the atmosphere;
- the spatial distribution of transferable materials;
- the regions of denudation and redeflection (air-salt map);
- the saltloss in the locuse-drenage depression;
- the vegetation influence on the dust-salt transfer;
- the modern landscapes map of emission of particles to the atmosphere,
- the formation of the fresh water lenses inside the barkhan sands, which is not covered by vegetation,

In addition to the above methods, the studies will include the chemical and elemental analyses of soil and aerosol particles, and impact of the water and water vapour motion and transformation processes on the soil and aerosol particles emissions.

The experimental and theoretical studies of the fine dust-salt particle (0.01-5-mcm) emission into the atmosphere from the non-fixed soil due to the convective processes in the arid boundary layer will include:

1. The investigation of condensation and catalytic activity of dust-salt particles in the atmosphere to model the long-range transport and evolution of ecologically dangerous admixtures.

2. The investigation of the tear off and updraft mechanisms of dust- salt particle emission from the non-fixed soil and dried basin.

3. The investigation of the physical-chemical properties of aerosol particles influencing the heat and radiation balance in the atmosphere.

The experimental and theoretical studies of the water and water vapour motion and transformations inside the soil and in the atmosphere near the soil surface will include:

1. The moisture dynamics (evaporation, condensation and infiltration) inside the barkhan sands, which is not covered by vegetation, and formation of the fresh water lenses.

2. The moisture dynamics in barkhan sands, which is covered by vegetation, and transpiration to the atmosphere.

3. The change of temperature and air flows along the barkhan surface and inside the barkhans during the day and night time.

4. The capillary effects inside barkhans.

5. The influence of the water motion and transformation on the soil and aerosol particles emission.

The suggested works include the development of the theoretical and numerical models of soil-air exchange based on the field and laboratory data. The models will include the element migration into the soil and in the atmosphere taking into account the heat-mass exchange.

The project suggests the investigation of the emission mechanisms for small particles rising up from the non-fixed soils and dried basin. It is hoped to that geterogenic processes play the important role in the "chemistry" of small admixtures. The high catalytic activity of small particles conditioned by their abnormal electrodynamics behavior: two reacting molecules at the particles surface interact more strong then in free atmosphere. That means the explicit dependence of reaction velocity upon the particle composition.

It is planed to develop the laboratory and theoretical modelling of the atmosphere photochemical cycles. Such approach has the advantage in comparison the direct atmospheric measuring so far the last one does not guaranty the reliable numerical characteristic of the atmospheric parameters.

The main information about powerful transfer of dust there is a space’s images and earthen expedition. Under the substance's migration studying in the low part of troposphere the wind-power characteristics that allowed determining direction and intensity of substance’s migration and to show the denudation and accumulation zones may be use. The local investigation suggested of this situation. However the persities in the analysis data point out on the absent of calculation method and common model dust-salt transfer in arid landscapes where fine disperse aerosol is very actual.

For the detail analysis of salt-dust transfer in the arid territories the landscape-geochemical investigation is need that allowed estimating the processes of element's migration in the "soil-atmosphere" systems. The soil - is a main part of biosphere where the syntheses of different organic-mineral compounds are took place. One time with industrial plant influences the sandy soils of arid regions also there is a contractor of silt organic-mineral compounds to the atmosphere. In the air aerosol composition these substances are able to transfer on the far distance.

At now the investigation problem of fine disperse phase of soil and air aerosol become a very actual and attractive. Especially important here the investigation of mechanisms and conditions of fine organic-mineral compound’s foundation, their diffusion to the atmosphere from the upper layers of desert soils. Very important also the ability of these compounds to becomes the condensation nuclear that may participate in the processes of cloudiness foundation. Partaking in the physical- chemical phenomena of atmosphere they can form the toxic compounds therefore the estimation of their migration activity in the case of distance influences once natural regions to another are very actual.


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